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Two Love Poems by Torquato Tasso

Translated from the Italian by Max Wickert

(The lover declares how, as he was overcome by sorrow, his mistress appeared to him in a dream and consoled him.)

Where are you coming from, O dream, who bear

lace for sorrow, in pity of my plight,

and in your sweet deception hold me tight,

dazed and enchanted in that pleasing snare?

Those lovely gems, that rich perfume -- oh, where

did you steal them, or those beams of radiant light

and balmy winds that soothe my sorrow quite,

portive as Cupids and like Graces fair?

Perhaps you snatched your splendor from the skies,

or the orient sun? From your lap's flowery bed

lo! scents of lilies and of violets rise!

Ah! see (hot longing flames up toward that prize)

the cherished hand, and hear, like raindrops shed

from a fresh cloud, sweet words and sweetest sighs.


(The lover complains to his mistress that, in dancing the torch dance, she put an end to the ball)

While the nocturnal hours slipped away

in jocund dances in the splendid hall,

a torch, lit at Love's fire, blazed on all

the midnight revelers like dawning day,

and, whirled from hand to hand, made ray on ray

in such bright sparkles from its fire fall,

that it filled the chosen beauties of the ball

with pride and joy, and others with dismay.

It passed to you, O cruel, lovely hand;

you took it up and quenched it. Left without

one lamp, a thousand eyes grew sad and blind.

What, have you changed your tactics or your mind?

You used to light the golden fire-brand;

and now, Love's minister, you put it out.

MAX WICKERT, Buffalo-based poet and UB Professor of English emeritus, will read from his work Tuesday at Empire State College in the Appletree Business Park, 2875 Union Road in Cheektowaga, and next Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center on the Buffalo State College Campus. His new verse translation of 16th century Italian poet Torquato Tasso's epic "The Liberation of Jerusalem" was published in May by Oxford University Press. These are Wickert's translations of two of Tasso's Love Poems.


Poem submissions: The poems printed in the Spotlight section of The Buffalo News are selected by R.D. Pohl. Poetry submissions should be sent to him at: R.D. Pohl, P.O. Box 641, Buffalo, N.Y. 14225. All poems must include author's name, address and Social Security number. Inquiries about the poetry page can be e-mailed to Poems will not be accepted through e-mail.

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